Love, Mom

Dear Beloved Child of mine,

You are loved. You are loved far more than you can ever imagine. You will never understand the sacrifice of that love until you are a parent to your own beloved child. This is how it should be.

Because of my love for you, You are more important than anything this world has to offer. In the end, all the successes, all the failures are not as significant as I thought. They are fleeting and empty but I get distracted by them. I have to remind myself what really matters.

I made a list….

Read more here at Raising Generation Today where I’m sharing today.

JenniferWillcock.LoveMom

Embracing Other Moms

As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend. Proverbs 27:17 NLT

When my boys were teeny tiny, I was fortunate enough to be in a community that ran a MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) group. The church I attended hosted MOPS, but the group was open to the community and a lot of women came with their children. It was a life saviour for me, providing two hours of grown-up time with other moms while the kiddos went into their groups to learn and play.

It’s also where I met some of my best friends….

To read more click here.  I’m sharing over at Raising Generations Today.

jenniferwillcock-embracingothermoms

The Beauty of Unique

Some people think I’m crazy because I like winter. There’s something magical about snow, especially the first snowfall. It falls like a blanket over the city, muting the noise and casting an ethereal beauty. If it’s nighttime it’s even better because the silence is deafening and the black night and white snow contrast each other perfectly….

I’m sharing over at Raising Generations Today.  Please come on over and read the whole article here: http://www.raisinggenerationstoday.com/the-beauty-of-unique/

 

The Hard Choices that Build a Home

This fall has been a series of hard decisions. Choices for good things and others, not so great. Some have been parenting decisions, others personal. They follow on the heels of one another, like a conveyor belt of choice.

I hate making decisions. I have a tendency to put them off. My brain feels muddled and I can’t think straight. I doubt myself. Anyone else do that?

Some decisions and situations can’t be put off. They involve other people and answers have to be given. What to do?

There wasn’t a clear cut path for any of our decisions. Unfortunately, for a couple, it involved saying no to something that was greatly desired. It physically hurt to utter the word no and then follow through.

It’s so tempting to do the easy thing. At the moment, saying yes is the easy way out for me even though the consequences of the yes are anything but easy. But in this moment, yes is enticing. No is a prickly thorn.

I feel like a juggler, trying to keep all the balls flying around me, up in the air. If one more thing is thrown at me, I’ll drop them all. I don’t want to follow the narrow path of doing what is right for us as a family. It takes too much effort and I just don’t have it in me to fight yet another fight. I think. I wrote in an email to a friend, something to the effect; Parenting is sometimes really brutal. So is following God.

The angst and the sleeplessness won’t go away and that tells me that I don’t have a choice. We have to step up and do the hard thing. The very lessons I’m trying to teach our boys are being brought home to my own heart. We are not supposed to be like everyone else. It might get uncomfortable. Doing the hard thing is exactly that; hard. It’s part of the landscape of being parents, and Christ followers.

I’m learning that it’s not my job to please others, even at times my own loved ones. Paul writes in 1 Cor 10:23, Looking at it one way, you could say, “Anything goes. Because of God’s immense generosity and grace, we don’t have to dissect and scrutinize every action to see if it will pass muster.” But the point is not to just get by. We want to live well, but our foremost efforts should be to help others live well. The Message.

It’s my job to teach and model for my family what a healthy life looks like. What a Follower of Jesus looks like. That is my purpose as a mom and as a Christian to fight for those I love. I am grateful I don’t have to wage war alone. I am blessed to have warriors by my side and a God who has said He will never leave me.

I stumbled on this verse yesterday. It’s not one I’m familiar with but I really liked it.

By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established; though knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures. Proverbs 24:3-4

That’s the kind of house and home, I want to build. Not everyone is going to like it or agree with me. That’s okay, I’m still going to build it. This house will have a foundation of hard decisions, explanations, love and grit. I’m trusting it’s going to stand the test of time.

Treasures from a Trip of Remembrance

(Before you read the blog, I just want to draw your attention to the beautiful header on my site and the logo you’ve been seeing.  A huge thank you goes to my very talented friend, Ben Guse who designed it for me!  I love it!  Thank you Ben!)

Now here’s the blog:

I was on a quest this morning. The boys had been asking about old class pictures. I couldn’t find them. After a major move, when you can’t find something you start to get a little worried. Either it eventually turns up or it’s gone.

After another conversation about the said pictures last night, I made it my mission to find them this morning. Closets, bins and boxes were searched. Where were they? I knew I had not knowingly thrown them out. I went back to the only place I could think they would be even though I had looked quickly in the bin already. The scrapbooking bin.  I haven’t really touched it in five years!

I pulled it out into the light and started sorting through it. Eureka! They they were halfway in. Breathing a sigh of relief I put them aside but kept going through the papers and pictures. I was having some fun looking at some of the treasures I hadn’t seen in a while.

 

Besides the class photos, I found a few things I wasn’t expecting.

Friendships. Some have endured and others have not. But every single person in those pictures brought something to my life. Friends are like that, right? Some really are for a season but it doesn’t mean their impact is any less. It was so good to see some old friends smiling up at me. We had some really fun times together. We really don’t have any idea how we make an imprint on other people’s lives. When we don’t have those relationships, we become barren and dry.

Hope. As I sorted and remembered I was filled with hope. Some pictures were of experiences and relationships that were hard. Some were awesome.  That’s life.  I realize sitting here, that if we let the bad go, the good does endure.  Through it all, as I remember, I believe that nothing happened that surprised God. That every step was taken with Him present. Many in the different places we have lived, have moved on and grown. Some of the journeys have been very difficult but here we are. Still standing. For some of us, we’re leaning on others but we are still standing. There is abundant hope in that.

Healing. Pictures of little boys smiling. Eyes dancing. They made me think, “We did have some fun, those boys and I.” I wouldn’t have said that a few years ago or even some months ago. For a long time I could not look at photos of the tiny boys because they made me sad. I didn’t like the person I was at that time. All I saw was a bad mom. Today I didn’t see that. I saw the good. Forts and campfires. Endless days of Thomas. Play dough. Days filled with play. Yes there were some really hard days but they are starting to fade. Today I found some truth to hang onto. A realization that it wasn’t all bad. Today I believe that.

Gratefulness. I found some thank you notes for serving in ministry. Reading them made me feel grateful for the opportunities I’ve had to do some pretty amazing things in ministry. I feel grateful for the many fabulous people I’ve worked with and gotten to know. Their belief in me when I didn’t have faith in myself, was such a gift. It pushed me to do things I would have run away from. We had some fun. Boy, did we!

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Purpose. Those thank you notes also opened my eyes to the fact what we do makes a difference in other’s lives too. It’s easy to forget. We often don’t realize how our actions and words can make a positive difference to someone else. How God takes our gifts and uses them in ways we can’t even imagine. Too often, and I’m so guilty of this, we like to hide our gifts and ignore our purpose because it’s just easier to do so. We can’t give in to that. We make a difference in our spheres of influence. Big or small.

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Goodness. I found some tickets and conference notes. Pictures of new places. I was blessed to be able to go to some really good conferences back in the late 2000’s. MOPS near Dallas, National Pastor’s Conference in San Diego and Just Between Us Pastor’s Wives’ Conference in Nashville. All three had significant impact on my life at that time when kids were little and leaving was hard. But worth it. They were gifts to me. Gifts of friendship, of learning and of travel. The gift and hope of seeing a better future. In some dark times, these were good things.

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I hadn’t planned on taking a walk down memory lane today. Sometimes we find ourselves in unexpected places. It might be a chance to remember and reflect about what has played out in the past and what we hope for the future. Maybe you are at that place. It’s time for you to take a little trip of remembrance. Or maybe it’s time for a new perspective. Time to see the good and give thanks. Wherever you are today, I hope you remember the good and it fills you with hope for a better future.

Remember the things I have done in the past. For I alone am God! I am God, and there is none like me.
Isaiah 46:9 NLT

Every Little Thing

“It’s been one of those days. A twenty-four hour period that was an emotional rollercoaster. The kind that leave you feeling nauseated, breathless and wind-whipped. If you have children, you’ve experienced them. If we’re being honest, and I hope we are, I’m pretty sure I’m not alone.”

I am excited to be a guest writer over at Raising Generations Today.  You can read the rest of the blog here.  It’s a great site so I invite you to go check out the blog and then have a look around!

 

 

 

TURN to Winsomeness

When did the world get so mean?

I mean I know it’s nasty but at the same time, it’s been in my face lately. Probably you’ve noticed it too. The Olympics were a prime example. It’s supposed to be a competition for athletes. “Faster, Higher, Stronger” is the motto. It’s a good ideal for an athlete to aspire to. Good sportsmanship is part of it too. Or should be.

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In Rio, we saw some awesome feats of athleticism as well as some great displays of integrity and good sportsmanship. You have your favourites. I don’t need to list any for you. But then… there was some behaviour that wasn’t so winsome.

A majority of bad behaviour came from spectators who watched from miles away. I thought the point of having people watch your event was so that they could cheer you on? To give you the inspiration to eek out that last burst of energy and give it a hundred and ten percent. However, the opinion of the spectator became “the sport” so to speak. Many tweeted hurtful accusations and made nasty comments to the athletes competing. When did this become acceptable behaviour?

As I reflect on the Games, it appears that the bad behaviour is a reflection of what has happened all summer. Hate. It seems to make all the good pale in comparison. But we can’t let it. In this age of hate, now more than ever, we need to TURN to winsomeness and TURN AWAY from hateful bullying.

I already wrote about kindness earlier this summer and you can read that here. Kindness is key but there’s another component, I believe, to making a positive difference in this world.

In his book Esther, Charles Swindoll writes about Esther’s winsome personality. How that kind of attitude helped her regardless of her surroundings.  “A person who is winsome draws you to him or her.  We are intrigued by that person’s charming and gracious spirit.”  (Esther, p. 49-50)  He makes a great point.

If I remember correctly I think Swindoll even put the definition of winsome in his book.   I’m going to follow his lead because it’s not a word we hear much anymore.

I think we need it back in our vocabulary. We need to TURN to winsomeness.

The dictionary describes Winsome (adjective) as:
attractive or appealing in appearance or character: a winsome smile.

A person who is winsome in character is charismatic. They draw people in because most people are attracted to people who are good. Esther was kind. She wasn’t haughty even though she was beautiful. She listened to those in authority. She was smart. Winsomeness is well, it’s a winner. (Sorry couldn’t resist!)

If we TURNED to being winsome, what would our worlds look like? Our workplaces? Our homes? I know I could use a dose of it myself. My family would really appreciate it some days!

Being winsome is opposite of bullying. Stopping bullying, which is really just hate and fear wrapped up together, is only going to stop if we TURN AWAY from it. I mean us. The adults.

As a parent, I was disappointed by some of the comments I read on social media and I didn’t read much! I’m really glad my kids are not yet allowed to be on Twitter and Facebook. Kids can be mean. I see it in my own kids. I see it in their friends and on the playground. They are children after all. They need to be taught how to be kind. Winsome.

But it wasn’t the kids doing the cyber bullying. Most of these comments were made by adults.

There is something so terribly wrong with that fact. Why are we so surprised by cyber bullying with our tweens and teens? We’ve taught our children how to be mean. We do it as we write ugly comments on social media. We won’t go have a face to face conversation with that person but we’ll hide behind a computer screen. Or talk behind our hands. We don’t keep our comments to ourselves. Some things are better left unsaid. My world would be a better place if I stayed silent even half the time!

We tell our kids to be kind to each other but then we go and snipe at our spouses. We don’t practice self-control. I don’t think TURNING AWAY from this behaviour is optional. I know we’d like it to be. I definitely would like an optional button some days! It’s always easier to be hurtful than it is to be winsome.

Winsome is not perfection. A winsome parent can make mistakes. Apologies can go a long ways to building love, respect and winsomeness in our families, our workplaces and in our neighbourhoods.

If as parents, grandparents, adults we TURNED to winsomeness and TURNED AWAY from bullying and hate, modelled that for our kids, would the world be a different place?  It might be worth a minute to think about that.  Imagine it.  Dream about it.

We can only control our own behaviour. It might not be the whole answer but I think it’s a good place to start. What’s it going to hurt?

“When I read God’s Word, I don’t find that many stories about great crusades and city-wide revivals and mass meetings where God’s attention rested on an entire country or a whole community.  More often, I find individual men and women who made a difference, who set the pace or cut a wide swath or stood in the gap and changed their times.  From Genesis to Revelation, we see God’s hand on the lives of individuals who thought and said and did what was right – regardless- and as a result, history was made.”   Esther by Charles Swindoll, p. 77